Partial Breach Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Partial Breach, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Partial Breach?

It refers to the breach of contract to the minimal effect which does not fail the contract but can be a reason for claiming damages or shortcomings due to the breach.

History and Meaning of Partial Breach

A partial breach of contract, commonly known as a minor breach, is a failure to meet only part of the agreement, without completely voiding the contract. The term is of legal significance because it means the party who breached the contract is less liable for damages.

In 1957, an American case involving the contract between the two parties, Nichols v. Raynbred Hobart, helped to establish the legal concept of partial breach in modern law. The judge identified the difference between complete breach (where the contract is entirely broken) and partial breach (where there is a minor breach).

Examples of Partial Breach

  1. A contractor is building a house for a homeowner; the homeowner expected the building to be completed in two months. However, the contractor completes the building only in three months. This breach is minor, and the homeowner is entitled to minor compensation.

  2. A music producer contracts a musician to deliver a solo album in six months with ten original compositions. The musician completes the album with nine original compositions taking seven months. This breach is minor, and the producer is liable to pay compensation for the one missing song.

  3. In an online purchase, the delivered product is slightly different from what was advertised, but it's still usable. This is a minor breach, and the buyer is entitled to minor compensation.

Legal Terms Similar to Partial Breach

  1. Material Breach: A significant breach that undermines the core of the agreement and prevents the performance of the contract.

  2. Fundamental Breach: A material breach that is so severe that it entirely defeats the purpose of the contract.

  3. Anticipatory Breach: A breach that occurs when one of the parties reports to the other party in advance that they will fail to fulfill the terms of the contract.